Monday, May 05, 2008

Shorebirding on the UTC

Yesterday I had another opportunity to do some coastal birding, and this time I decided to concentrate on wetland birds. My first stop was Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Orchard Orioles were coming to flowering shrubs by the entrance station, and by stationing myself nearby I was able to get a few decent photos.While waiting for this oriole to pose for me I noticed a pair of Swainson's Hawks soaring up in the clouds (new one for the year list).

Driving and stopping at points around the Wet Soil Unit I had a Glossy Ibis mingling with a small flock of White-faced Ibis, Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, and distant views of Hudsonian Godwits. Did the Shoveler Pond Loop, but didn't see much aside from the usual alligators and my first Purple Gallinule of the season. There were a few migrants in the willows, including a Black-and-white Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush.

Later Cin-Ty Lee found me back at the entrance station still trying to photograph orioles. He wanted to try and get a decent photo of a Hudsonian Godwit, so we went back to the Wet Soil Unit for a closer look at the shorebirds there, which included 20-30 Hudsonian Godwits, a couple of Whimbrels, Black-necked Stilts, Wilson's Phalaropes, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers, and Least, Western, Semipalmated, Stilt, Pectoral, and White-rumped Sandpipers. Here's my digitally zoomed photo of a very distant Hudsonian Godwit. That's a phalarope making a cameo appearance in the foreground.Cin-Ty told me he'd seen Buff-breasted Sandpipers in a flooded field along FM 1985, so I left him out there still in pursuit of the elusive godwit photo, and went off to look for the buffies. Sure enough I had 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers right where he said they'd be, also more Whimbrels and a flock of Ruddy Turnstones.

Next stop was Rollover Pass. The tide had come in, and the only shorebirds were a few Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones wandering aimlessly around the parking lot. This photo of a turnstone was taken from the car window.Tried for Sharp-tailed Sparrow along Yacht Basin Road, and met another birder there looking for the same. Neither of us had found the sparrow by the time I left (probably getting too late in the season), but I did add Gull-billed Tern to my year list, and scared up a couple of Common Nighthawks. Also had some nice opportunities to photograph Eastern Willets like this one.Maybe this Willet was too busy contemplating its taxonomic status to notice me sneaking in for a picture. Wish they would just split them and get it over with.

Made a last stop at the Boy Scout Woods on my way home. Good timing too - the Yucatan Express arrived just as I did. Where Hurricane Humberto had done some of its worst damage I found plenty of passerine migrants (Red-eyed Vireos, Magnolia and Bay-breasted Warblers, etc.). Made a good end to the day.


At 3:31 PM, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Nice birds, great photos.



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